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Week in Review

Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

No one denies that Federico Garcia-Hernandez was stabbed and robbed in his West Glenwood Springs trailer by at least two masked men. But was one of them Larry Doty?The decision 12 jurors reached after after five or six hours Friday was “No.”That question was the big one in 26-year-old Lawrence Dale Doty’s attempted murder trial stemming from a Nov. 30, 2004, incident. The jury found him not guilty on all five charges: second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, aggravated robbery, first-degree burglary and menacing with a deadly weapon. Deputy District Attorney Amy Fitch had previously dismissed four lesser charges. She said it was done to focus on the main issues of the case.”I’m very pleased to see that the system works, justice was done and an innocent man was set free,” defense attorney Gordon Gallagher said.The prosecutor’s case relied heavily on the credibility of Sharon Coehlo, whose testimony would have linked Doty to the crime if the jury believed her. She was said to be sleeping with Doty at the time, although in court she referred to a man named Troy Degrote as her boyfriend.

Gov.-elect Bill Ritter has decided change is in order within the state Department of Natural Resources, and opted against reappointing Rifle resident Russell George as DNR executive director.Ritter on Thursday named fellow Denver attorney Harris Sherman as head of the department. Sherman served in the same position under then-Gov. Richard Lamm, from 1975-80.Both Lamm and Ritter are Democrats. Ritter was elected to replace term-limited Republican Gov. Bill Owens in November, and will take office Jan. 9.Despite also being a Republican, George had applied to be considered as a candidate for the position under Ritter.State Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, co-chaired the committee that recommended four candidates for Ritter’s consideration for the job. Sherman was one of those candidates.Curry, who also chairs the House panel that oversees natural resources, said she didn’t think Ritter’s decision was politically based. Rather, she said, it reflects his desire for new ideas and new faces in his administration.”In this case he’s getting kind of an experienced new face,” Curry said.

Glenwood Springs’ downtown will receive an additional $50,000 annual boost thanks to a legal settlement three years ago related to the Glenwood Meadows commercial development.The money will be used for beautification and other capital improvements downtown.The city agreed three years ago to provide $50,000 annually to downtown from sales tax revenues generated by the Glenwood Meadows development. The agreement settled a lawsuit by a group called Glenwood Springs Citizens for Democracy. It included representatives of Big John’s Building & Home Center and the former True Value hardware store, which later was closed to make way for the expansion of Glenwood Springs High School.The group challenged the establishment of three metropolitan tax districts at Glenwood Meadows. Big John’s owner John Lindsey said the group wanted a decision by City Council authorizing the districts to be put to a vote of the public.The group was worried about Glenwood Meadows’ potential impact on downtown, and wanted the settlement money to be used to make downtown more competitive.

A Rifle High School graduate says he has landed a “dream job” on the staff of Colorado’s next governor, Democrat Bill Ritter.And he has some Republicans to thank for helping him get where he is today.Scott Hutchings, 32, will serve as director of operations and advance for Ritter. He’ll be involved with scheduling Ritter’s appearances around the state, and often traveling with the governor.Hutchings played a similar role during Ritter’s campaign, coordinating a bus tour in October and a fly-around of the state in the last days before the November election.Hutchings is a 1993 graduate of Rifle High. His family goes back several generations in western Colorado. He lived in Rifle for five years, and also spent summers at a family ranch near Rifle when he lived in Littleton and Dallas. He knew he wanted to go into politics since he was a kid, and has favored Democrats from early on.

Phil Gallagher is a single guy with no family, but for much of the last year he’s felt like a parent who lost a child.His Gallagher’s Optical was one of several businesses affected when a fire struck the Grand Avenue Mall in downtown Glenwood Springs last March 19. Thanks to ongoing insurance negotiations stemming from the high cost of local construction, the wait continues for some businesses hoping to move back in.Gallagher is starting to think the wait has lasted too long for his store to ever reopen, and he’s lamenting that possible loss.”Owning a business 27 years is kind of like living with a kid,” Gallagher said.Noting his own lack of a family, he added, “I had my store; that was my baby.”Gus Lundin, the building’s manager, sympathizes with Gallagher and other business owners affected by the fire, and shares their frustration over the delays in getting the building reopened.”That’s been my primary concern all along, is being able to return the tenants to the building as quickly as possible. We’re still trying to accomplish that,” he said.


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